Austin Watson hasn’t had a drop of alcohol in four years. Better surrounded than ever, the Ottawa Senators forward has been living better days since making this change in his life.
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The 31-year-old and his girlfriend Jenn Guardino suffered from drinking problems together but also got away with it by asking for help. Taking to Senators’ social media on Wednesday, the couple shared their history of addiction.
“For the seven or eight years before I went to rehab, I couldn’t count on my own hands the number of days I was drink-free,” admitted the former Nashville Predators Tour first pick.
In order to have children in particular, Austin and Jenn have decided to quit drinking. Now they are parents of two and living the life they always dreamed of.
“It’s so satisfying to see your children are happy and healthy. I am also happy and healthy and able to be there for them. When I’m drinking, when I’m depressed, when I’m anxious, when I’m withdrawn, I can’t be there,” Watson explained.
A dark episode
In June 2016, the forward caused a lot of conversation in the National Hockey League following his arrest for domestic violence. Watson would have confronted his wife about her drinking problems and it would have degenerated.
The “Preds” player had received a year’s probation and had been suspended from the National Hockey League for 27 games. The penalty was reduced to 18 games after an appeal.
In October of the same year, Jenn Guardino took the blame for the incident, stating that Watson never hit or abused her. “I am fortunate to have Austin’s support for my treatment. We mismanaged the situation on June 16 and we know we need to make better decisions going forward,” she said in a statement.
Of course, the fight against addiction is rarely done alone. Arriving in Ottawa in 2020, the American immediately felt accepted and encouraged by his new teammates.
Last year it was his captain, Brady Tkachuk, who presented him with his medal for his third year of sobriety.
“The staff, the players, everyone is so good to me, to us. It’s a very good group and it’s special to see that in such a young group,” admitted Watson.
Some newcomers, like Quebec’s Mathieu Joseph, were unaware that the young veteran had been sober for four years.
“I only knew it three minutes before I went on the ice today. [mercredi], he said at a press conference. A few guys came over to hug her and I did the same. It’s really great. He is an important member of the team and a pleasant fellow.
“I can’t imagine what he’s been through in the last few years. He needs our support and that of his family. It’s a great achievement and I’m proud of it,” concluded Joseph.